A departure from food- what do we make of wish lists?

I am a big “list” maker. On my desk you will see several pre-made lists from knock-knock, TO DO in big letters at the top, with segments such as “tasks” or “correspondence” marked. This is my kind of organization, even if it means adding something I’ve already done that day (just to feel better, crossing it off).

So, in true Sandra fashion, I always ask for wishlists from people, because the practical side of me always kicks in at Christmas.  What if this person hates this author? What if he owns this sweater already? What if this person dislikes gift cards, and finds them impersonal?

This is where wish lists come in, giving me the opportunity to see what they like. Personally, I have made my own lists on amazon.com, making gift-giving  (“should a person feel so inclined,” she said with an air of humbleness) a breeze. That being said, I doubt that either of us wants to be the person buying something that forces a trip to the store with a gift receipt. Therefore, I have some ideas about wish-list gift giving, and gift-giving in general.

1) Amazon.com

Amazon provides a tool for universal gift lists, meaning the gift does not need to be from amazon’s website in order to buy it. In fact, you could buy, say, a book from an independent book store, and just mark it on the person’s wish list as if it were bought there. It disappears from the list, even if you bought something in store, rather than online.

2) Go easy on bath products

Many times have I received a Bath and Body Works coupon and thought to myself “Yeah…I’ll buy a ‘present‘ and get that lotion I want for myself with my BOGO coupon- sweet deal!” Then I have to tell myself to hold the phone….With fragrances, parabens, animal testing, and just general bath product snobbery….we have NO IDEA if our friends want the certain products we think they will like. Instead, I like to give bath accessories. Don’t we all need to use different makeup brushes? How about a natural loofah, like this one from EcoTools? My exception for the most part is Burts Bees. I was introduced to their lemon cuticle cream through a gift, and now I’m an addict. Still, you never know!

3) Used or not used….this is the question

Books make absolutely amazing gifts, and one of the best parts about amazon’s wish list is that I can specify used or new for items I would like. Nothing would make me happier than a friend saying that he/she bought an item used, and saved 75% of the retail price. For my 19th birthday, a dear friend found an old Libretto to Bizet’s Carmen in a used bookstore. I had known this girl for less than two weeks, and already she knew that this was a gift I would cherish. I LOVED that it was used, and that it had such special meaning- not with the use of a list! So, lots of times I looks for good deals. Amazon’s marketplace has several books sold by individuals with shipping for #3.99, with a base rate of sometimes 1 penny!  $4.00 and you might be able to check that person off of your list. Depending on the level of friendship you have, you might even be able to slip into your watercooler conversations about your preferences. Note the inclusion of the phrase “old book smell,” with subsequent positive or negative reactions. My preference? If it’s cheaper for you, go used.

4) Speaking of books…..

Check out a person’s Goodreads profile, and see if they have anything marked “Wants To Read”.

5) Check out Bridesmaid/Housewarming/General gifts on Pinterest

I am not one of those girls who has a Wedding Pinterest with no engagement ring. However, the ideas for bridemaid invites, photos, etc. are quite darling! One of my favorite thing “pins” includes bridal party gifts for the wedding day….a mason jar with tissues, clear nail polish, aspirin, etc. Why not translate that into a perfect Christmas present?! In the past, I gave a friend a sort-of “everyday survival kit,” with things that we always wished we had more of…tissues, chapstick, gum, etc. I knew she would use everything in the kit, and that it was equally meaningful as if I had spent a ton of money on one big gift.

6) DEVIATE from the list!

Every year I get someone via Twitter or Facebook saying that I am being too material by creating or requesting lists. Listen, it’s just to help me organize and save my sanity- seriously! But we often walk around and find that one “oh yay!” present for a close friend…that Aveeno gift set at Target, or that gift card to Whole Foods (where the person would never shop on their own due to lack of funds), or that mix CD with your favorite running songs. Sometimes we even see a theme from the wish list that may prompt a more unique, perhaps homemade gift. Whatever it is, the important thing is that the gift speaks from the heart.

Above all, always give love!



 image from here


With a little elbow grease!

So I really like Kris Carr and I was SUPER thrilled to see that her new cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, was available at my local library!

Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution[Photo credit here]

Kris has always been an inspiration to me, ever since I saw her movie, Crazy Sexy Cancer. She decided to document her journey through food and wellness via film, and it is incredibly powerful. Why shouldn’t we all take charge of our health, even without a cancer diagnosis?

I was recently inspired by one of Kris’s blog posts on her website, about prevention and the awareness surrounding October (for Breast Cancer Awareness). It never quite hit me that many things that are advertised as being “pink” and all wonderful for breast cancer in fact may not be the best thing for our bodies (I mean, I love Magnolia cupcakes….but I probably don’t need the pink frosting any more than I need the pink cake!)

So I took some cute advice. What’s pink and okay for you? PINK GRAPEFRUIT.

One of the things I noticed when I was lucky enough to use my former roommate’s souped-up-and-expensive-Hurom juicer was that….well….grapefruit juice is delicious! So sweet, and not quite as sour as its whole-fruit counterpart. Without the expensive juicer, I used some delicious grapefruit and a little bit of elbow grease. This was the result…

  (a little sifting action!)

No fancy juicer, just a pink drink (that isn’t pepto…yuck!)….and might I add, a perfect way to top off my first day at my new job!

Be well everyone!

(with a little note from Kris Carr, after I met her at a NY book signing!)